By Shimmy Blum
The summer season is about to begin and few are as active in preparing for it as the Nikolsburger Rebbe, Reb Mordechai Jungreis, shlita. Over the past half a decade, the Rebbe has been a growing fixture in the Catskills during the summer season. He serves as rav of the historic Congregation Bnei Israel shul in Woodbourne that is a nerve center of Jewish life in the Catskills, serving the entire Sullivan County. It offers the region’s busiest center of minyanim for Shacharis, Minchah, and Ma’ariv around the clock. It is a warm, welcoming abode for Yidden of all backgrounds to daven, learn, or have some cake and coffee.
The past summer saw a particularly pronounced renaissance for the shul, with over 60,000 Yidden, bli ayin ha’ra, walking through its doors. The Rebbe and his team are hard at work to make this summer the greatest one ever at the Nikolsburger Shul, preparing the facilities—and a full stock of food, drink, and amenities—for when the doors open on Thursday, June 20.
More than the sheer numbers, the Woodbourne Shul has gained a growing dedicated following due to the unique spirit within its walls. Every visitor, whether he wears a Biber Hat, bent down hat, or knitted yarmulke, feels as if the shul is targeted to him. Because it is. “The shul is named Bnei Yisroel because that’s what it is,” the Rebbe explains. “Every Yid can call it home.”
If there are any two words that can best describe the Nikolsburger Rebbe, they are “Ahavas Yisrael.” The Rebbe is renowned for his acceptance and genuine love of every Yid—of any background, in any state. The Nikolsburger Shul on 16th Avenue in Boro Park has long been the home for countless bachurim and men who may feel unwelcome in other venues. Their sense of belonging to that special kehillah—and all its joy and vibrancy—has saved many a neshamah from despair, both emotionally and spiritually.
Despite his many crucial communal activities, the Rebbe offers the Woodbourne Shul—and everyone who walks through its doors—his undivided attention. He is personally in the shul throughout the day, all season. He greets all mispallelim, and the Rebbe makes it his business that everyone leaves happier than they arrived. The inspirational stories of each summer season at the shul can fill a book—from secular Jews returning to their roots to frum youth overcoming their challenges, and everything in between.
As he is working feverishly to take care of all the logistics, the Nikolsburger Rebbe has increased his commitment to this special project. In order to ensure his long term ability to utilize the Woodbourne Shul for its current purpose, the Rebbe was forced to acquire the shul from its current leadership. The acquisition, along with the huge operating expenses, is close to $200,000 for this season alone.
Unlike most kehillos, the Woodbourne Shul doesn’t have a major donor base to support its activities. “We are relying on all of Klal Yisrael to help us serve them,” the Rebbe remarks. To partner in this great shul, please mail a check payable to “Congregation Nikolsburg” to 1607 49 Street, Brooklyn, NY 11204, or visit www.thewoodbourneshul.com. v